Book Review: Perfected by Kate Jarvik Birch

Title: Perfected
Author: Kate Jarvik Birch
Publisher: Entangled Teen
Release Date: July 2014
Pages: 281
Format: Hardcover
Age Group: Young Adult
Genre: Fiction

Perfection comes at a price.
As soon as the government passed legislation allowing humans to be genetically engineered and sold as pets, the rich and powerful rushed to own beautiful girls like Ella. Trained from birth to be graceful, demure, and above all, perfect, these “family companions” enter their masters’ homes prepared to live a life of idle luxury.
Ella is happy with her new role as playmate for a congressman’s bubbly young daughter, but she doesn't expect Penn, the congressman’s handsome and rebellious son. He’s the only person who sees beyond the perfect exterior to the girl within. Falling for him goes against every rule she knows…and the freedom she finds with him is intoxicating.
But when Ella is kidnapped and thrust into the dark underworld lurking beneath her pampered life, she’s faced with an unthinkable choice. Because the only thing more dangerous than staying with Penn’s family is leaving…and if she’s unsuccessful, she’ll face a fate far worse than death.
Slavery is alive and well in the United States of America. Humans are engineered in labs to become the pets of the elusive American 1%. These human pets are trained and groomed in kennels, until the age of 16. Once pets have reached maturity, they are sold to the highest bidders. The pets are taught from birth that their own happiness means nothing, that the only happiness that matters is the happiness of their owners. These pets are not even taught how to read or write. These pets are also only female. Words like spayed and euthanized are thrown around often in this book when speaking of ways to control pets. 

Perfected was highly enjoyable, even though the plot line was pretty evident from the beginning, as well as from the synopsis of the book. This book touched on some very taboo subjects, and I liked the way the author broached the subject matter in such an imaginary and hypothetical way. It also really speaks of the way society treats females, young women in particular, and the pressures that are forced upon them. 

The main character, Ella, is a pet that has been purchased by a very influential congressman. The same congressmen, in fact, that was able to get the law passed to allow the creation and purchase of pets. Ella is not the congressman's first pet. The congressman and his family are keeping a secret. Why did the first pet have to be returned? Ella knows that pets that are returned, end up behind the red door. Once a pet goes behind the red door, they never come back out.

Ella’s journey to self awareness is a subtle one. She begins by knowing her place in the world and accepting it. However, once she moves into the Congressman’s home and begins to interact with his family, Ruby and Penn in particular, she begins to have doubts about her place in the world. The thoughts that she begins to have about the world she lives in, makes her question all that she was engineered and trained for. She begins to see the wrongness of her situation, and the situation of all pets.

Ella faces several hardships on her road to self discovery, but ultimately, in the end, and I do mean the very end, she finds the inner strength needed to escape her situation.


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